March 2023 AOTM: Chineze (Chinny) NwagboMar 03, 2023
Welcome back to TWN’s Athlete of the Month! Each month we are highlighting athletes in our network to share what they have accomplished outside of sports, their contribution to the athletic community and more. Make sure to check out our weekly newsletter to learn more about the athlete, what motivates them, and how to contribute to their cause.
Our March Athlete of the Month is Chinese (Chinny) Nwagbo!
Chinny is a former all-county MVP high school basketball player who continued on to play collegiate basketball at Syracuse University where she also earned her Business of Science degree in Biology. She went on to play professionally for 11 years around the world. Throughout this experience, she also built her brand as a motivational speaker, focusing on underrepresented youth in sports.
Since her retirement from basketball in 2016, Chinny has served in many roles supporting youth. She has worked as an International Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs Sports Diplomacy program, and she’s worked in youth development for several NBA basketball teams.
For the last two years, Chinny served as the Director for PeacePlayers International’s Baltimore program where they work to increase peace and equality in the world through sports while building a network of young leaders. She also served as the Co-host of PeacePlayers’ Play It Forward Podcast.
In December 2022, Chinny became the Director of Player Programs and Engagement at the NFL Players Association. Her work focuses on ensuring that NFL players are successful beyond the playing field by providing professional and personal development tools, programs and resources to their membership. Chinny hopes to use her own personal experiences to help other athletes that are struggling to find their own place in the real world! Learn more and connect with Chinny on LinkedIn here.
Chinny served as the Co-host of the PeacePlayers’ Play It Forward Podcast. This podcast was created to help share the stories of people trying to create peace and equality in their communities. They welcome different guests to highlight certain topics each episode.
PeacePlayers’ mission is to unite divided communities through sport. They provide basketball programming, peace education and leadership development for communities’ youth that are affected by the issues of conflict and inequality.
Chinny explained that it is her duty to pay forward the investment to younger players that she received from her coaches which is exactly what she was able to do through PeacePlayers and her past role with the Baltimore program.
Check out an interview Chinny did with WNBA all-star Alana Beard here.
CHINNY x TACKLE WHAT'S NEXT
We welcomed Chinny on the Big League Philanthropist podcast at the end of 2021 to discuss her work and passion for helping underrepresented youth in sports. Chinny spoke about the relationships and friendships she gets to make through her work, and how it’s one of her favorite aspects. She also talked about the importance of making those connections and building a network with others so that you can support one another.
“We are all connected and we all just want a human bond. We all just want to be seen, heard and respected. It is so simple, but sometimes people forget about the simple things.”
Chinny also emphasized the idea that change in the world starts with the individual. In her mind, the first step in making an even bigger change is to try to be a leader whenever you can and make yourself the best person you can be.
“Change starts with the individual- that self identifying practice, molding yourself into the very best version of yourself. Empower yourself - understand your brilliance and your uniqueness in the world.”
Chinny also joined us in May of 2022 on Timeout with TWN to share how sports taught her to know herself and showed her the importance of surrounding herself with people that encourage her to expand her opportunities. She also explained how she was able to take core values used in basketball and transfer them into life outside of the game. She gave us her advice on how athletes can navigate the challenges of transitioning out of sports.
“Transitioning after playing pro sports for such a long time can be very lonely and hard, but what’s important is finding and surrounding yourself with people who are willing to help you. People who will hold you accountable to be the best version of yourself. People who will help you find resources to transition smoothly, and folks who won’t let you stay down when there are solutions for a successful transition.”
Thank you Chinny for sharing your journey with us and for all the work you’ve done to support athletes around the world. Watch her full Timeout episode here.
OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH CHINNY NWAGBO:
What do you do with your role at the NFLPA?
"I am the Director of Player Programs and Engagement at the NFL Players Association. Essentially, I help provide players access to different PA funded professional and personal development enrichment tools, programs, and resources to ensure a successful transition into their second careers."
What did being an athlete teach you about the work you are doing now?
"The transferable skills I acquired on the court prepared me for my life after sports. Aspects of the game are present in all areas of my life. The core characteristics I’ve obtained through my experiences as a pro athlete have taught me to be an intentional, compassionate, resilient, hard working leader. I approach life with a fearless tenacity to succeed boldly!"
What is the most important thing you did for yourself to start planning for life outside of sports?
"Some best practices I used to prepare for success after my pro career were researching my next “North Star” goal (second career), and then finding a mentor who was an expert in the industry I was interested in breaking into. Additionally, I focused on developing stronger networking skills."
When and how did you decide you were ready to make the transition out of sports?
"Honestly, the game decided for me and it’s always a good idea to listen to your body. I played my last professional basketball game in Israel and I think it was the best decision of my life. I had a phenomenal 11-year career traveling the entire world, meeting the most amazing people, and being surrounded by rich culture and delicious food. I’m forever grateful for my basketball journey."
What advice do you have for athletes around moving on from sports to their next chapter?
"When the game ends, a new part of your life begins: the part where you develop your identity outside of the game. Embrace it! You will surprise yourself at every turn if you believe in yourself and stay focused! You already know what hard work is - so never ever doubt your GREATNESS!! 'The small daily victories performed with disciplined consistency over extended periods of time, lead to revolutionary results.'"